Pfizer-Mylan combo Viatris to slash up to 9,000 jobs, shutter manufacturing plants in global cost-cutting drive

Viatris' restructuring efforts could impact up to 20% of its 45,000-strong workforce, putting up to 9,000 jobs on the line. (Pixabay)

A little less than a month after Pfizer's Upjohn unit and Mylan successfully merged to create generics business Viatris, the company is already looking at ways to slash costs.

Newly minted Viatris Friday laid out detailed plans for a global manufacturing initiative that could put thousands of jobs on the line. By 2024 at the latest, the company aims to wring at least $1 billion from its cost base, and it's planning to close, downsize or divest up to 15 facilities to meet that goal.

Up to 20% of the generics business's 45,000-strong workforce—some 9,000 staffers—could be impacted by the time the restructuring effort wraps, the company said in a release. 

The cuts will occur at Viatris' oral solid dose facilities in West Virginia, Ireland and Puerto Rico, plus its Unit 11 and Unit 12 active pharmaceutical ingredient plants in India. Viatris also recently completed the divestment of an injectables manufacturing site in Poland. 

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The layoffs will take place in phases over the next few years, the company said. Viatris has pledged to seek out potential buyers for the facilities to preserve jobs where possible. 

Viatris officially entered the scene in November when Mylan and Pfizer's Upjohn unit finally closed their $12 billion generics merger after months of delay, thanks to COVID-19 disruptions and a U.S. antitrust roadblock. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in early November cleared the companies to move forward on the condition that the pair divest seven products pegged as potential threats to U.S. competition. To appease the FTC, Mylan and Pfizer agreed to sell off a clutch of meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, seizures, hypertension and more to authorized generics firm Prasco. 

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Viatris' layoff scheme is notable for the sheer number of employees who could hit the exit, but merger-related job cuts are nothing new. 

When Takeda agreed to buy out Shire for $62 billion in 2018, it touched off a $1.4 billion round of cost cuts, including deep cuts to the companies' combined workforce—and that's just one recent example.

Mylan itself is no stranger to cost cuts, either. It kicked off a restructuring effort in 2016 that sought to "reduce redundancy" among "less than 10%" of its global workforce, which stood nearly 35,000-strong at the end of 2015. The company followed up those efforts in 2018 when it said it would lay off about 500 employees at its facility in Morgantown, West Virginia—a bid to "right size" what the company called one of the world's largest pharmaceutical plants.